Cholesterol has been a topic of controversy for quite some years. Still a murky subject, there aren’t much evidence to support the good or bad sides surrounding cholesterol. Even as we grew up, parents used to warn us the detrimental side of cholesterol. But is that how cholesterol is really supposed to be? Read on to know.
Debunking here the myths and facts of what cholesterol is all about.
Myth: High cholesterol is actually a healthy indicator of heart attacks.
Fact: High cholesterol is a worst indicator of cardio diseases.
Study shows that half of the people who walked into clinic for CVD had normal cholesterol levels and while those suffering from high cholesterol levels had perfect body parts.
For a much better reading, triglycerides to HDL ratio can be worked out. For instance, if your triglycerides are 100 with your HDL of 50, the ratio is 2. But if you have triglycerides of 150 with HDL of 30, the ratio is 5. A ratio of 2 or below is excellent while the ratio of 4 and above means health risk is high.
A recent study by Harvard says that people with a higher ratio of triglycerides to HDL had 16 times more the risk of heart attack than those having a low ratio. Needless to say, the ratio of triglycerides to HDL can be a much better predictor than the LDL/HDL ones.
Myth: High cholesterol means heart disease.
Fact: Not necessarily.
Cholesterol has little role to play in triggering CVD. Inflammation is the main root of heart disease in people. Here is how it happens. Minor injuries in the arterial lining become inflamed. As a result LDL cholesterol, nutrients and other things get stuck at an area that builds up and expands the inflammation and turns to the plague. They prevent the blood flow to the heart/brain leading to heart disease or brain stroke.
Myth: Statins can extend your life.
Fact: Another contradictory topic that needs the right evidence.
There is not much difference in death rates between those who are under statins and those who are not. In the PROSPER study, women who used statin showed a small reduction in mortality. However, it was offset by a set of deaths due to cancer so the overall gain in terms of lives is pretty much zero.
Myth: Statin drugs are quite safe for health.
Fact: Wrong again.
Statin drugs are basically antibiotics that can trigger a bunch of side effects. Few of them include memory loss, low libido, muscle/joint pain, fatigue etc. Studies conducted by the University of California claim that cardio doctors ignored many of the important side effects that can be caused by statins. Around 65% of the doctors in their study failed to connect the complaints with the medication. In the meantime, side effects such as forgetfulness, lack of sex drive, lethargy and so on piled up.
Myth: Statins are suitable for all – men, women, kids and elderly.
Fact: No, statin drugs are not for all.
As per studies, the only group to have benefited from statins are middle-aged men who have survived an attack. Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by Judith Walsh, MD says that statin treatment to cut high cholesterol in women showed no mortality benefit. Another study in 2007 says that statin does not keep women away from heart disease and statins effects in the long term have never been tested on children.
Myth: Saturated fat is bad.
Fact: Recent study showed that saturated fat has nothing to do with heart disease.
In the last few years, two studies conducted claim that fat intake has no connection with CVD. One study quoted that “intake of saturated fat was not associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease or stroke, nor was it associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease”.
Myth: High the cholesterol, short the lifespan.
Fact: As per Framingham study, people who had high cholesterol lived the longest.
The Journal of the American Geriatric Society says that people with lower cholesterol than 189 are more susceptible to death than those with high cholesterol.
Myth: High carb diet saves the heart.
Fact: Its the other way round.
A paradoxical subject, there are many studies that say that switching to carb diet from saturated fat can actually raise the level of heart disease. Dariush Mozaffarian of Harvard in his study found that postmenopausal women who had high saturated fat intake was less prone to coronary atherosclerosis than those who opted for carb intake.
Bottomline, moving the body, cutting down stress levels and maintaining healthy dietary regime is the key. Of course, the living being is perishable but you do the hold the key (to some extent) on how to lead your life.
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